January 22, 2008 7:38 AM PST

CIA: Cyberattack caused multiple-city blackout

A cyberattack has caused a power blackout in multiple cities outside the United States, the CIA has warned.

The SANS Institute, a computer-security training body, reported the CIA's disclosure on Friday. CIA senior analyst Tom Donahue told a SANS Institute conference on Wednesday in New Orleans that the CIA had evidence of successful cyberattacks against critical national infrastructures outside the United States.

"We have information that cyberattacks have been used to disrupt power equipment in several regions outside the U.S.," Donahue said. "In at least one case, the disruption caused a power outage affecting multiple cities."

Donahue added that the CIA does not know who executed the attacks or why but that all of the attacks involved "intrusions through the Internet."

The CIA analyst added that his agency had evidence of blackmail demands following demonstrations of successful intrusions.

"We have information, from multiple regions outside the U.S., of cyberintrusions into utilities, followed by extortion demands," Donahue said. "We suspect, but cannot confirm, that some of these attackers had the benefit of inside knowledge."

The CIA does not normally make this information public. According to Donahue, the CIA actively and thoroughly considered the benefits and risks of making this information public and came down on the side of disclosure, the SANS Institute reported.

Alan Paller, director of research at the SANS Institute, warned more than three years ago about demonstrations of denial-of-service attacks to computer systems, followed by demands for cash.

Tom Espiner of ZDNet UK reported from London.

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SANS Institute, cyberattack, blackout, U.S., attack

19 comments

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Also from the CIA
Also documented proof that the CIA poisoned drinking well water so as to document mass confusion and such if USA ever came under attack.
Posted by inachu (963 comments )
Reply Link Flag
where?
WHAT cities? None are listed, no details are given. Nothing can be
checked or verified. I've learned a very long time ago that just
because someone says something, doesn't make it true. (Does "Iraq
has weapons of mass destruction" ring a bell?)

With the low level of trust of anything government these days, this
report seems like pure FUD to me.
Posted by jltnol (85 comments )
Link Flag
Loosen the tinfoil helmet...
... your cranium isn't getting enough oxygen.
Posted by ejevo (134 comments )
Reply Link Flag
The CIA also said there were WMD in Iraq
Why should anyone believe them on this matter? The odds of a
hacker being able to shut down a power grid are minimal, and
even if they did succeed it would be a simple matter to bring the
power grid back up. This is hardly a threat, and hardly news.
What is more worrisome is will the Bush Administration use the
'fear' generated by this story to take control of, and disable, the
Internet to 'keep us safe'? We should be far more worried about
that, than a couple of hackers flipping a switch OFF that can be
turned back ON in a matter of seconds.
Posted by zmonster (272 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Weird diversion
WMDs were just one of several reasons for going into Iraq. The White House website has the speeches given. Look at the original information instead of the 2nd hand coverage by people who hate his guts.

In addition, even Saddam's generals thought they had huge bunkers full of poison gas, etc, and were shocked to discover it was not so. Saddam was an incompetent meglomaniac who relied on being able to terrorise to stay in power.

The power grid is much more fragile than you might think, and the total cost of all the different minor expenses resulting from it being knocked down is pretty high. "A million here, a million there... Pretty soon you're talking about big money."

Considering what governments (all governments, not just "Bushitler", etc) do to everything they gain control of, I don't want them anywhere near the internet. To my thinking, this indicates the utilities need to spend money to prevent problems. Considering how greedy the owning/controlling companies are... I am not hopeful.
Posted by Phillep_H (497 comments )
Link Flag
FEAR
Isnt most the things the CIA does about generating fear, fear of terror, fear of eavesdropping, fear of Osama Done Nothing....thats why they spread these typs of fear stories to induce a more passive public to think the Internet is bad and should be turned off. Remember the matrix is all around you...
Posted by PearlProAudio (1 comment )
Link Flag
Oops, NOT the United States' power grid.
Go to the original documents. The power grids having problems are in other countries, not the US.

Well, not yet. Some people I correspond with have worked for power companies, and they are pessimistic about the grid's resilience.
Posted by Phillep_H (497 comments )
Link Flag
Here we go
It's been designed well for resilience in plain view but outside of control by me (man that is).
Also it seems like i just had my nights sleep in the wrong town.
Year down with the CIA
Posted by wildchild_plasma_gyro (296 comments )
Reply Link Flag
No obvious questions?
Why don't these "reporters" ask obvious questions like:

WHY IS CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE PLUGGED INTO THE INTERNET?!?!?!

Obviously the intelligence agencies are putting fear in the citizens to get their way. Provide facts and details or lets just write it off as propaganda.
Posted by Daimyo- (13 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Die Hard 4 comes alive!!!
Maybe Maggie Q is in this too. Well we can only dream.
Posted by hunter_jc (109 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Do the Google news search.
I thought the refusal to name names was suspicious and hinted at disinformation.

A Google news search makes this credible to me!

You cannot hide what is already public knowledge. It only leaves to speculation, how many players are active in this cyberwar. I make out at least two based on my presumption that all blackouts searched are player generated.

I speculate that where two are obvious, more are in play.
Posted by cyberbian (17 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Did you really expect them to announce WWIII has begun!
The most obvious reason that the CIA would hide the targets is that it reveals the identitys of the attackers.

If you knew the player roster, you might realize that WWIII is underway!
Posted by cyberbian (17 comments )
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